Do Scarecrows work?

During my many years living on the commune, i have never seen a scarecrow, until last week.

Perhaps the shiny CDs make the difference

Perhaps the shiny CDs dangling from the arms make the difference.

So I asked recently while I was hanging out at Acorn about the efficacy of scarecrows.  What I did not know was that crows are some of the smartest birds out there, and while scarecrows quite likely will not be fooled by it, other problematic birds quite likely will be.

According to Cracked Magazine (is this a reliable source?) crows have been found to make crude knives from leaves and grass and then use those knives to fashion other tools.  National Geographic goes on to discuss crows using vehicles and traffic lights to break nuts and retrieve them safely.

crows scary

Scarecrows are not scared of a scarecrow as the name leads us to believe, but they are still potentially useful for the much larger number of birds, who are not as smart as crows.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

 

 

 

 

NYT’s bias is showing on Indian Point

paxus:

The Grey Lady is Lying to you

On the off chance you thought the NY Times as the last bastion of respectable journalism, i have bad news. The NYT energy reporter Matt Wald, is just a step short for climate disruption denying. Hopefully they will at least print some of the corrections from NIRS.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Indian Point will remain a center of controversy as long as it operates. The question is: how long will that be?

Indian Point will remain a center of controversy as long as it operates. The question is: how long will that be?

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article by longtime nuclear power reporter Matthew Wald titled Hearings on Water Permits for Indian Point.

NIRS’ Executive Director Tim Judson found a lot to critique in this article, which bends over backwards to less-than subtly support Entergy’s position on Indian Point. The entire article, with Tim’s comments in brackets, italicized in green, is posted below. Further down, you’ll find a brief report on the substance of the issues raised at the hearing.

Matt, your bias is showing… 

CORTLANDT, N.Y. — A giant power plant that kills tiny fish eggs is leading engineers, government officials, politicians and advocates of all stripes into a fourth year of debate about which side represents concern for the environment, and whether the fish are actually…

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Two Powerful Long Political Commercials

This is a lovely piece of corporate sponsored good citizenship modeling.

It is somewhat culturally inappropriate for the US in a number of ways.  You don’t poke a woman you don’t know on the bus (though you could offer your seat if you felt moved).  It is a guy always giving to somehow disempowered women.

And if we can see past these problems and get to the deeper message: generosity – particularly regular small generosity, is a highly desirable cultural attribute.

Curiously with almost 5 million Youtube views of this video, it points to a Thai language dominated and apparently uninteresting website.

On the most disturbing side there is this piece from Syria.

This Save the Children fundraiser has already exceeded it’s $100K goal.

What are the implications of this improving philanthropic art video form?  Are our hearts going to more regularly be tugged at or stomped on?

And it begs the question, with the accessible media of video, what are the viral short films we should be making to draw folks our way?

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

 

 

 

IEA “experts” not particularly expert

paxus:

The SAfeEnergy.org blog once again pulls off another lovely piece of critical analysis. If you dont have time to read the whole thing (which is only a couple pages long, i will summarize my key take away points:

1) The extremely highly paid energy experts at the IEA (International Energy Agency) which is part of the OECD are responsible for many things – but especially for forecasting future energy demand and supply. Looking back at their forecasts for wind and solar from a decade ago, we find that they horrifically under estimated these trends. By a factor of 5. Greenpeace however, writing at about the same time, got it almost exactly right.

2) Nuclear promoters complain about renewable subsidies and tax breaks. But the very short tax breaks given wind and solar inspire little investor confidence, while nuclear has guaranteed tax breaks for 25 years. Demonstrating once again their hypocrisy.

But read the article, and subscribe to safeenergy.org = and excellent source.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

greenpeacevieaforecastsThe International Energy Agency (IEA) is composed of 29 countries, which are required to be members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The agency was founded in response to the oil crisis of 1973-74 “to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets,” but has since expanded its mission “to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond.”

The IEA publishes the annual World Energy Outlook and purports to be the world’s most expert and influential organization on energy issues, or, as the IEA itself puts it, “It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative statistics, analysis and recommendations.”

In short, you’d think they know what they’re talking about.

Two items this week indicate they don’t. 

The first is an article posted yesterday by Doug…

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The Hunt for the Green Tortoise

Shal and i are going to visit Sequoia and Yosemite in September on the Green Tortoise Bus.

Green Tortoise Adventure Trip

Green Tortoise Adventure Trip

I am looking forward to this as much for the natural beauty as for the time with Shal, who is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  And as i was talking about this on the phone this evening, i was reminded of my early search for the Green Tortoise.

There was a time when the internet was young and a time when the Green Tortoise did not have permits for all the bus routes they were driving.  I remember talking with a Green Tortoise bus driver about this perhaps 30 years ago and he explained that the legal permits for bus routes were so prohibitive, that Green Tortoise could not cover the permit cost, because they did not do enough cross country runs per year.

So years back, before Facebook existed and when Amazon mostly sold books, i was trying to reconnect with the Green Tortoise for a friend who wanted to go cross country.  I banged the bus company name into google and only three entries came up, none of them was an official site.  And i wondered to myself  “Are they still underground because of this permit thing?” and decided to investigate further. I read one of the pages where the bus company was named, hoping to find contact information.

Sometimes your mistakes are telling

Sometimes your mistakes are telling.

There was no contact info.  But the more i read the blog post, the more i came to the realization “this writer has terrible spelling”.  Now any regular reader of this blog knows that if  i am spotting your bad spelling, they you have a serious spelling problem because it is something i almost never recognize, being borderline dyslexic myself.

But then i got to thinking, “if this person is such a terrible speller, and i am only getting three hits from all of the internet, then perhaps we are combining our poor spelling and i am searching for the wrong thing.” And when i checked, sure enough i had spelled “tortoise” wrong.

Putting in the correct spelling resulted in all manner of matches, including the ticket selling (and presumably legal) Green Tortoise official website.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

My Body Is Not a Problem

paxus:

A call for a fitness company that celebrates the body, rather than markets thru shame. From the reliably good (and certainly more consistently grammatically correct) blog – disrupting dinner parties.

Originally posted on Disrupting Dinner Parties:

So I’ve been feeling sluggish and achey today, craving some of that juicy sweaty endorphin-y exercise goodness. Preferably involving some kind of dance, but I’m not terribly picky as long as it’s not running or marathon crunches. And so I’m sitting at work, bored and fantasizing about moving my body to a thumping rock beat, and I notice an ad for a workout place – right by my work! Oh, how exciting! Click click click!

. . . Oooh. Hang on. The picture’s kind of a red flag:

Not the actual picture. This company's website actually seems fine.

Not the actual picture for legal reasons. Fun fact, though: if you google “barre fitness” you actually get DOZENS of these creepy stepford workout pictures.

Creepily similar, perfectly coiffed women looking fierce-yet-feminine and *definitely not sweating* in their matching outfits? Not really my vibe, but I’ve heard it’s a good workout, so I’ll keep reading . . .

This…

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The Renewables Revolution tipping point

Mostly real progress is slow.  It took decades to end slavery (which gave way to wage slavery in many places).  It took longer to get even some of the most basic rights for women in this country.  It took a decade of protest to end the Vietnam War.  Decades for gay marriage.  I am doubtful multi-partner marriages will be legalized in my lifetime.

Early in my clean energy campaigning career (the 1990s), a renewables expert explained that they preferred we not call it “alternative energy” because this was not our long term objective.  And for decades we have heard “wind is not ready from prime time” or “solar is too expensive for utility scale application”.  But when someone says that to you these days, you should respond with the same incredulity you would if someone suggested we strip women of the right to vote.  “Hey, have you been living under a rock?”

Germany has made the shift

Germany has made the shift

The triple meltdown at Fukushima hit the accelerator for clean energy solutions in a number of countries.  Perhaps most dramatically in Germany, where parts of this shift have been underway for decades.  If you stay closely on top of the German energy transition (called Energiewende) you will have no doubt heard that in the early stage after closing reactors after the Fukushima disaster the country was actually opening more coal fired power stations.

germany gdp and ghg graph

GHGs are down again, to their lowest level in decades in Germany

But as the bar chart above shows, the “Fukushima means more coal in Germany” story is old news.  These distortions were caused in part by their being a number of incomplete high tech coal plants in the pipeline when Fukushima hit and distortions in the European carbon tariffs which (hopefully temporarily) were favoring coal.  As the longer term graph above shows, unlike many countries, Germany is serious about reducing it’s carbon footprint.  Central to it’s success is that more than half of the renewable investment in Germany in recent years has been from individuals (including farmers) rather than large utilities or governments.

Japan is arriving later to the party, but is still showing up in significant ways.  Most recently there has been an explosion in the number of companies registering to sell electricity.  These include Honda Motors, Panisonic, Softbank and some giant Japanese homebuilding companies.  This is critical, because unlike Germany, Japan has 10 nuclear power utilities which have had a monopoly on electricity sales.  The government for it’s part has (like Germany did) created above market pricing for power which is generated from renewables.  Even before the opening of the market, Japan has seen a surge in home/business electric generation for personal/industrial use.  The Japanese court just handed anti-nuclear activists a rare victory in stopping the restart of 2 reactors.

Japan, unlike the US, does not have a single authority to restart it’s currently closed 48 reactors.  Even the newly restructured safety authority is telling the Abe administration that they need to check with local governments before restarting reactors, even if the safety authority says it is okay.  Recently elected anti-nuclear provincial governor Taizo Mikazuki of Shiga prefecture on July 13th, indicates that the Abe governments plans to restart reactors are far from secure.  The longer Japan continues to function will all of it’s reactors off and without blackouts, the less plausible the utilities arguments are that they are completely necessary to run the country.

Japan's solar growth is impressive

Japan’s solar growth is impressive

Germany has the solar profile of Alaska. Japan has very few conventional energy resources.  Both countries are using tax structures, market mechanisms, feed in tariffs and public education campaigns to change the ways they produce energy.  Germany is ahead of schedule to close all it’s reactors by 2022. Japan currently has all its reactors closed.  These were the number 3 and number 4 nuclear countries in the world (after the US and France).

 

Is there a trend here?

Is there a trend here?

It is far form a done deal, but the above graph shows an important trend.  It is worth pointing out that at a 25% capacity factor, the installed wind power worldwide represents the equivalent of 35 full size reactors – which is still a long way for replacing the almost 400 operating reactors worldwide, but if you compare it to 6 reactor equivalents in place in 2009, you can see that this real progress in energy is moving right along.

 

 

 

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